What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.
This Week from OK Policy
Data shows discrimination is a clear barrier to the success of LGBTQ2S+ Oklahomans: LGBTQ2S+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Two-Spirit) Oklahomans have a right to the same opportunity to thrive as cisgender and heterosexual Oklahomans. There is nothing about anyone’s gender or sexuality that makes them inherently less able to support themselves or others. There are, however, forces—namely discrimination—that can damage and limit their ability to prosper. [Josie Phillips / OK Policy]
Policy Matters: Seeing the Full Picture: When folks are challenged with information that comes from outside their own day-to-day lives, it can sometimes be difficult to accept. It’s only human that our individual experiences dominate how we view the world, which in turn influences our perceptions of other people. But to truly understand what is going on in our state, we must remain open to learn from our fellow Oklahomans. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]
Policy issues can take center stage in election year (Capitol Update): Election years always provide a fascinating dynamic for the legislative session. A few legislators will already have announced opponents, so their attention will be divided between legislative work and campaigning, especially for the June 29 primary which is only a month after the end of session. The others, no matter how secure their district, are nervously watching back home for any signs of opposition. Then there’s the excruciating three-day filing period, where invariably, some will draw surprise last-minute opponents on the third day of filing. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]
2022 State Budget Summit: Now in its eighth year, OK Policy’s State Budget Summit brings together state and local officials, tribal leaders, community leaders, and engaged citizens to examine the state’s current fiscal circumstances, what we might expect during this year’s legislative session, and where we can improve our state’s budget and tax system. Click here to learn more and register for the 2022 State Budget Summit.
Deadline Sunday: Join the team as a Data Analyst: OK Policy is currently hiring for a Data Analyst to carry out critical data-driven research projects, using the Open Justice Oklahoma database to turn court, prison, and jail administrative records into data that supports efforts to create a more open and equitable justice system. Applications for this position close at 11:59 p.m. (CST), Sunday, January 9, 2022. [OK Policy]
Weekly What’s That
Corporate Income Tax
Oklahoma’s corporate income tax is set at a flat rate levied upon the taxable income of every corporation doing business within the state or deriving income from business within the state. The rate has historically been set at 6 percent, but under HB 2960, approved in the 2021 legislative session, the rate is lowered to 4 percent as of January 1, 2022. The tax is based on a three-part formula that looks at the portions of a company’s sales, property and payroll that is based in Oklahoma.
The corporate income tax generated $510.4 million in Fiscal Year 2020, which was 4.9 percent of total state tax collections. The corporate income tax tends to be, along with the gross production tax, one of the state’s most volatile tax sources, fluctuating dramatically from year to year and often coming in far above or below certified estimates. This volatility has been explained by changes in corporate tax laws, the use of corporate tax breaks, and the outsized impact that a small number of corporations can have on total collections. Under a 2016 law, a portion of corporate income tax collections are allocated to the Revenue Stabilization Fund in years where collections are projected to exceed their five-year average.
The corporate income tax has generated a declining share of total tax revenue over time as more businesses incorporate as S-Corps and LLCs (which report their income on the personal income tax return of shareholders) and as companies find ways to take advantage of loopholes and tax breaks to limit their corporate tax liability.
Quote of the Week
“I am not for another round of income tax or corporate tax cuts right now. I think we need to hold our own this year. We don’t need to be moving forward in those tax cuts. I think we need to stay right where we are. I think we need to have more savings.”
-Senate Appropriations and Budget Chairman Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, speaking about proposals for additional tax cuts this legislative session [NonDoc]
Editorial of the Week
Oklahoma legislative report manipulates numbers to claim top teacher salaries
A recent legislative report did some tinkering to find that Oklahoma teachers have the highest salary in the region; if only that were true.
Headlines from a Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency rapid report — meaning it was completed in 90 days — tout this as good news, and many conservative state lawmakers shared on social media as a victory.
It’s to convince people there is no problem, rather than fixing the actual problems.
Taking a deeper dive shows the report has taken statistical license by adding in cost-of-living, tax burden and other benefits — each with its own subjectivity arguments. It created a formula for “real buying power” of teacher salaries…
Numbers of the Day
- 4 – Number of cities in Oklahoma that provide legal protections for LGBTQ2S+ residents [The Williams Institute]
- 34% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s population who have not received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine [The Oklahoman]
- 7.5% – Percentage of Oklahoma children aged 5-11 who have been fully immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine, or fewer than 30,000 of the state’s 376,215 children in that age range. [StateImpact Oklahoma/KGOU]
- 1 in 7 – Proportion of Oklahomans who participated in the SNAP anti-hunger program pre-pandemic (2019) [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]